There’s something about Mary – which is why I agree with her!

In 1997, she was inaugurated as the eighth President of Ireland. In 2004, she was re-elected as the only validly-nominated candidate; therefore when Mary McAleese has something to say, I believe we should listen. As former President McAleese once invited me to have tea with her at Áras an Uachtaráin (when I was working at RTÉ), resulting in what was a highly enjoyable afternoon of conversation and discussion, I am of course biased, believing her to be a lovely lady. You could say…There’s something about Mary!

It was reported that the Pope, (the spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion catholics), claimed women cannot enter ordained ministry because the church’s “Petrine Principle has no place for that”. County Roscommon resident Mrs McAleese allegedly described his comment as “misogynistic drivel”. Good woman yourself Mary!

Apparently, (and patronisingly in my opinion) according to His Holiness, “there is another principle that is still more important, about which we do not speak, that is the Marian Principle, which is the principle of femininity in the church, of the woman in the church”.

Ah bless, kind of like we, the little women, get the consolation prize. You know, the one you were handed in school for ‘taking part’ but not for actually being good enough to make the grade or win.

I was raised catholic and educated in schools run by the Dominican Sisters, who tried in vain to teach me to become a member of their religious order. (Yep, they were constantly recruiting)!

It became clear I was definitely not ‘nun material’ when Mother Superior, Sister Gemma (RIP), caught me – in her words – “uttering a string of obscene profanities”. Practically foaming at the mouth and waving her bata mór, (big stick), this elderly nun became highly enraged when my answer to her favourite citation of “Jesus died for our sins; you ungrateful wretch”, was my retort, “I’m only sinning so he doesn’t feel he died for no reason”.

Like any teenager back then, my main religion was to worship the God of make-up, Revlon, the God of hair dye, Clairol, and the supreme being who invented disco dancing, the ultimate Goddess herself, Donna Summer!

Following that embarrassing little incident, Mother Superior decided if I wasn’t suitable to take ‘holy orders’, my soul may still be saved by taking orders from my husband. By doing this, she assured me, I could still be “submissive to the Lord”. She really didn’t know me at all!

I did marry at the ludicrously young age of 17, but it was never, nor will it ever, be in my nature to submit to anyone! Especially not to the church whose tradition it seems is – given the Pope’s discriminatory statement –  to overpower women and bring us to heel, as it were.

When it comes to religion, I’ve always relied on my own conscience. Rather than attending Mass on Sundays and so-called ‘holy days of obligation’, I believe I don’t have to drop to my knees in a building filled with statues to pray. I know that I can pray anytime and anywhere.

In addition, I’ve always struggled to understand and come to terms with the church’s doctrine of the male-only priesthood. I don’t wish to offend any readers who’re devout catholics, nor do I wish to offend or be disrespectful to priests, but I believe that type of ideology is not just idiotic; it’s archaic.

I not only agree with Mary McAleese’s “misogynistic drivel” comment, I also believe that the decline of the Catholic Church is entirely down to the fact it’s still being run by closed-minded senior men who should consider retiring from their professions and allow women – if they feel they have ‘a calling’ – to become ordained.

Rather than following the Petrine Principle of giving primacy and pre-eminence to males, relegating females to follow what the Pope says is “another principle”, (the Marian Principle), where a woman ‘offers herself’ as ‘a complete gift’ to men, the Church could perhaps instead trust us with the keys to the Kingdom?

Methinks it’s about time His Holiness realised the hour has come where women who have ‘a calling’ will no longer be content with being relegated to the role of Bible readers, communion distributors or flower arrangers at Mass!

What point is convicted killer Graham Dwyer contending in his appeal?

Those following the news will remember how Graham Dwyer was convicted of the 2012 murder of Elaine O’Hara for his ‘sexual gratification’.

You’ll also be aware he’s appealing that conviction, arguing that the retention of mobile phone data is ‘an opportunistic form of mass surveillance’ – and other nonsense about phones being ‘tracking devices’ which can reveal a ‘detailed picture of every aspect of a person’s life’. Eh, doh!

I wholeheartedly agree that you cannot indiscriminately use a person’s data willy-nilly. I also know that by using forensic software, Gardaí can see texts, calls, images and video footage, etc., which can serve as evidence to vindicate the innocent and convict the guilty. I’m of the opinion that if an individual has nothing to hide, then the use of digital technology in proving their innocence is not just useful, it’s vital.

When Dwyer was sentenced in 2015, we all thought that was the end of this horrific matter, that justice had been done. I can only imagine the heartache now being visited upon innocent victim Ms O’Hara’s family and on  Dwyer’s own family – specifically his children (also innocent victims).

A submission is being put forward that the trial judge had allegedly ‘looked in a very disapproving manner at the defendant’, something which I’d describe as being a ‘clutching at straws’ move.

A lot of excellent detective work, scientific evidence and DNA gathering was involved in this case. However, given the incident is again making headlines, the question on my mind is this: What exact point is Dwyer contending? Is he saying that he didn’t murder Elaine O’Hara… or is he saying his data should not have been retained and used to convict him?


Kissing babies could prove hazardous to their health…so stop it!

The restrictions and lockdowns during the pandemic which saw everyone, including babies, wobblers and toddlers not socialising, has resulted in a large pool of us becoming susceptible to catching a variety of coughs and sneezes, which can spread viruses and diseases.

One such virus doing the rounds is the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which, although common, can prove to be extremely serious for infants and young kiddies, with cases reportedly becoming prevalent over the past fortnight.

With the usual ‘winter surge’ expected at A&Es, and with cases of RSV being discussed daily on news bulletins, it’s no wonder parents are very concerned.  In fact many are now asking people to refrain from kissing their babies and toddlers.

When it comes to my 15-month-old baby granddaughter, I can assure you this Nana won’t be asking or issuing genteel requests to would-be kissers and huggers! Instead, I’ll be standing in front of our toddler, and, in a voice that’ll brook no argument whatsoever, Nana will make clear the consequences to anyone who breaches the rules and places our baby girl at risk!